The Netherlands based chemical manufacturer, which celebrated its 195th anniversary in 2016, carries out 75% of its business within the leather sector. As the world rapidly evolves, several of Smit & zoon’s recent developments were related to the CSR field to better cater for the needs of its client tanneries “who are being pushed and pulled from different directions to change” in order to meet the increasing sustainability requirements of final consumers. Examples of the manufacturer’s collaboration in the leather value chain include involvement in the Tannery of the Future self-assessment tool and the Safety Poster for tanneries. Also, responding to a client’s requirement, the Company was subject to an ethical audit for the first time in 2016, where it scored quite highly.

According to the 2016 CRS report, the family-owned chemical supplier aims to play “a catalysing role in making the leather value chain largely sustainable by 2025”, by reducing footprints (water, waste, logistics) across the entire chain and applying outstanding health and safety standards. “We make it a priority to listen to our employees in order to understand their views.  In 2016, we started preparations for the employee engagement survey that we will be conducting in 2017. We use this feedback to drive improvements in the way we manage our staff and run our business”. The company is also committed to comply with (M)RSL for all its products by 2025.

Through its ‘Product Passport’, Smit & zoon aims to identify the sustainability of its wet-end products by making measurements and assessments on several points, including environmental impact (COD, BOD, TDS and TSS) and the effects its products have in leather (including haptic and physical properties). So far, data has been collected on 20 products for shoe upper leather, 14 products for automotive leather containing chromium and 17 products for chrome-free automotive leather. “Starting from 2017, we are sharing the available information inside and outside our organisation, so that by using the data from the Product Passport, our customers are able to gain more knowledge about which Smit & zoon products to use in order to make high quality leather with the lowest possible impact on their waste stream. In doing this, we anticipate that they can make significant cost savings in the area of effluent treatment”, states the company in the report.

International operations within the CRS objective in 2016 included the  purchase of a new air compressor for its Italy based plant, which automatically adjusts its speed based on the required capacity when running at full speed, consuming less energy, and saving approximately 10% in electricity costs, equivalent to 1,050 kWh/year; and the installation of equipment in China to monitor both the emission gases from dust in the dust collector and non-methane hydrocarbon (NMHC) from the gas scrubber, as well as monitoring equipment for Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) on the company’s rainwater system.

“Humanity has the ability to make development sustainably to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”, said Marc Smit, Owner, Smit & zoon. “We want to play a pioneering role when it comes to CSR and act as a catalyst in making the leather industry more sustainable, specifically in those areas where we can have the greatest impact: safety & health, water and waste”, he added.

 Smit & zoon is also an active member of, and financial contributor to, the Leather Naturally steering committee.

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